It’s this kind of paternalism – remarkably bland though it may be – that I loathe. The emphasis, inevitably, on the hard work of the kindly ‘folk’ who did the observing (they got up at five and didn’t finish til midnight – I’d love to know the $/hour rate they get paid); and the millions of hopeful Africans waiting patiently and, ah!, peacefully in long queues aware of their humble role in history and an emerging democracy. Does anyone ever write about North American voters like that? This level of benevolence works for Bono and Bob but it makes the rest of us feel deep rage. Do these ambassadors and diplomats not listen to what Angola’s so-called civil society say and to what the many brave independent journalists write? For many of these people have been, and still are, the fundamental actors in this ’emerging democracy’ (emerging what?) and, in many cases, the people who’ve struggled and been imprisoned in the battle to try and create it during the last thirty or forty years. Many of them are saying that these elections mark a (democratic) return to a one party state.
Oh, Dipnote Dan, what a disappointment. Don’t patronise the people, telling them to be proud. Your own country showed us the true crisis of democracy in 2000. Angolan people also know this. You don’t need to speak down to them as if they were your children, sweet and untarnished by the realities of life, ignorant to the truth in this world. You pat them on the head and smile sweetly at their peaceful nature, and then turn your back and walk home rubbing your hands in oil deals. We know the history of diplomacy in Angola, where British and Americans in the service turn their hand to ‘consultation’ in the oil industry within minutes of leaving their posts, exploiting all those endless garden parties and tête à têtes with the MPLA et cetera. There’s nothing democratic about any of that. Nothing at all.